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(Stoughton, WI) All too often, the warm spirit of the holidays is lost in the shimmer of retail glitz. It’s always heart-warming to remember simpler times and connect with family and friends in the true spirit of the season. There’s no better place to do that than in Stoughton during Victorian Holiday Weekend, December 3-5, 2010.

Illuminated Fire Truck Parade

This unique winter festival features theater, dance, music, shopping, and sports. Victorian Holiday Weekend is a perfect weekend for friends, couples, or families with children. Couples might choose to attend a dance, stroll through a home tour, and enjoy great local food. Families may want to ride the free trolley, see a show, decorate holiday cards or cookies, and be dazzled by the illuminated fire truck parade. Friends will enjoy music at the Opera House, learning about Victorian quilts, and shopping the unique stores and boutiques of this historic, artistic community. Sports enthusiasts can enter the 5K run or 2k walk or build a crazy bed to race in the Victorian Bed Races.

The official tree lighting Friday night launches the holiday with a special guest to illuminate the tree. There will be entertainment and the Sweet Taste of Stoughton, a community bake sale. The evening continues with The Victorian Holiday Party, a light-hearted evening of dance and entertainment. Sit and chat with friends, dance the night away, enjoy a display of fire department memorabilia, and savor treats from the Sweet Taste of Stoughton. Best of all, the evening benefits the Stoughton Fire Department.

Saturday is a whirlwind of opportunity for free and affordable entertainment. The Nutcracker Ballet performs at Stoughton High School, and vocal and instrumental groups perform at various locations around town. The Arts and Craft Fair runs both Saturday and be and sure to check out the Rosemaling demonstration at Clocktower Gifts. Relay for Life hosts a holiday home tour featuring some of Stoughton’s beautiful homes decked out for the season. A reception and silent auction follows afterwards. Proceeds from the tour and reception once again benefit the American Cancer Society.  On Saturday and Sunday the free trolley takes visitors to most events. On Saturday, Joe DeRose from the Wisconsin State Historical Society will join trolley riders with informative talks about Stoughton’s historic buildings and past.

Sunday features the Dickens of a Run with a 5K run and 2K walk through some of Stoughton’s historic neighborhoods, followed by the action-packed, pulse-pounding Victorian Bed Races. The afternoon highlights a free performance by the world-famous Stoughton Norwegian Dancers at the community center and a charming concert by the Stoughton Chamber Singers at the historic Opera House.

Spend a day or two in the charming small town of Stoughton for a taste of Christmas without the hype. Experience the best of the season without the stress, or hassle of big crowds, fighting for parking, and commercial overload. It’s a chance to remember why we say Merry Christmas. For a full schedule of events visit the Victorian Holiday Weekend website.

What has 25,000 skeins, can turn your photos into fine art and hosts a gaggle of knitters every Wednesday night?  I’ll give you a hint; it’s located on Main Street in Stoughton.

 It’s Woodland Studios.  They’ve got a lot of creative stuff going on all the time but on Wednesday nights the place is all but given up to a fun and sassy group of knitters.  It’s actually two groups of knitters.  A cozy workspace in back and a grouping of comfy furniture arranged to inspire conversation creates two creative havens for these knitting enthusiasts.  They start gathering as early as 4:30, making their way from various locations, many coming straight from work, to join their friends for a bit of knitting, a lot of conversation, and some tasty food from Cheesers, right next door.  Newcomers are always welcomed and this season lends itself to indoor activities.  If you’ve been thinking about taking up a hobby, perhaps you should consider knitting.

 Check out all of the classes, workshops, services and products available at Woodland.  Go to www.woodland-studios.com .    

Knitters

They’ve been all over the air waves spreading the word about their gold buying service but what do they really do? I’ve been wondering and I figured you were too.

When I walked into their Division Street location I didn’t know what to expect. The ads talk about buying gold but their name suggests that they deal with diamonds. Would I find a desk and a couple of chairs or a full blown jewelry store? I found a lovely jewelry store and it is about to get even lovelier…

Diamonds Direct is one of the “new kids in town”. They moved to Stoughton in February of 2010 and they have several other stores both in Wisconsin and Michigan. While they are currently located on Division Street, they will be moving to a new location on Main Street. They are remodeling at a “break neck” pace, hoping to relocate to the old Main Street Jewelry location by early November. Best of all, they will provide Stoughton with a much needed full service jeweler. They will do custom work, repairs, gold buying, and installation of watch batteries. They specialize in diamonds but were quick to assure me that they will have a full line of jewelry from very affordable to the most dazzling diamond creations.

Remodeling

Be sure to stop into their new location on Main Street in November. The significant remodel, right down to the bricks and studs, is worth a peek, but I think the jewelry selection will be a real thrill.

Take a ride through fabulous southern Wisconsin and see the lovely fall scenery and beautiful art in its many forms—pottery, jewelry, sculpture, paintings and more. The weekend of September 25-26 is the Fall Studio Art Tour featuring 35 artists. From as far west as Blanchardville and Verona to the south in Paoli and Brodhead, on west to Stoughton and Brooklyn and many cities in between, there is much to see. Make a day of it. Turn a road trip into a feast for the eyes. Get more information at www.14southartists.com

Fall Tour Map

The Chamber of Commerce has announced that applications are now being accepted for the 2010 – 2011 Leadership Stoughton program.  Graduates of this program will be prepared to assume the leadership roles that will make our community an even better place to live.

For the first time in the program’s history, a full scholarship is being offered for an individual to attend the program.  The scholarship is being funded by ISADEX Corporation, a Stoughton-based web development and hosting company.  “We were very impressed with the Leadership program and we’re proud to support it.”, said Tim Miller, President of ISADEX and a presenter at one of the Leadership sessions last year.

The Leadership Stoughton program is conducted over a nine-month period.  The program will concentrate on major issues impacting our community.  Topics such as our culture; government; education system; volunteerism; the environment; local business; health and human services; and others will be addressed in presentations beginning with an orientation in September and continue until May.  One session will look at leadership from an academic perspective. The half-day sessions will begin at 8:00 a.m. and conclude by Noon.  Most sessions will include a tour of sites and locations pertinent to the topic of the session.

At each session participants will interact with individuals in our community who are knowledgeable “experts” in their particular areas of interest.  Participants will gain specific knowledge of the issues facing Stoughton and will understand the implications and impacts of those issues on the broader community.  At each session, participants will also hear from one of Stoughton’s acknowledged leaders who will candidly discuss their personal perspectives on leadership.

One of the most popular portions of the Leadership program is the “community project”.  The hands-on work done on these projects has been of lasting benefit not just to the participants but to our community as well.  Participants will again be offered the opportunity to select a community project that they will work on over the course of the program.

More information on the Leadership program is available from the Chamber’s web site – www.stoughtonwi.com – or by calling 608-873-7912.

With the popularity of everything coffee, what could be more fun than a Coffee Break Festival?  The coffee break is said to have originated right here in Stoughton.  This Saturday (Aug. 14) we celebrate Stoughton’s important place in history. 

Things kick off first thing Saturday morning with the “Brewfest”.  Taste coffee from various roasters and coffee houses and vote for your favorite.  Last year’s winner was Cheesers.  They featured Door County Coffee and strongly promoted their Scandanavian Blend, a smooth, bold flavorful blend.  Stop in and cast your vote for your favorite.  Throughout the day there will be an arts and crafts fair, a 5K and 1 mile fun run, a car and motorcycle show, and games for the kids.  Slather on the insect repellant and enjoy a free concert in the grandstand from 3p.m. to 7 p.m. featuring T.H.E.S.H.I.B.S.  The downtown merchants have a fun day for dog lovers and bargain hunters as they run their second annual Dog Daze event.  Drinks for the doggies and other fun things going on throughout the downtown.

Come hungry.  There will be food, beer, and a raffle.  Don’t go home without your Coffee Break t-shirt.     This year’s shirt, a product of a logo contest, is sure to be a hit with coffee lovers and fest goers.

Fun Conversations Start Here

 

Have you ever sat in a restaurant and tried to pick out the daters from the married couples? The married couples are the ones sitting there often looking glum and basically not talking to eachother while the daters are leaning in, smiling, chatting and laughing occasionally. Try it sometime. It will surprise you.

Well, I am one of the those old married ladies–eleven years and counting. My husband and I like to spend our dollars locally when possible and we are able to keep the babysitting expense lower when we “date” locally–it cuts out travel time. In light of all of this, we recently decided to give the Pour House a try. They’re located downtown on the south side of Main Street.

We had a lovely experience. I was expecting live music but we hit it on the wrong day. The live music is on Thursday and Saturday nights. We were there on a Friday expecting a crowd. You know how it can be on Friday nights in Wisconsin–fish fries and all. Well, it wasn’t wall to wall like a lot of places, but I predict it soon will be when word gets out. We ordered parmesan and spinich encrusted salmon and cajun pasta (loaded with spicy sausage and 12 large shrimp–yes, we counted). The dinner menu was priced in the range of $9 to $16 and was truly inspired.  Dinners include warm bread and soup or salad. The equally intersting and tasty sandwich menu was also reasonably priced. Hang on, this isn’t the end of my story…

The place was decorated nicely. The bar was lovely, the help was friendly and they had the most interesting mix of game cards at every table. Each table had a bowl of miscellaneous cards from various games like “Fact or Crap”, “Scruples”, and “Trivial Pursuit”. My husband and I had a ball reading through the cards and quizzing eachother. It generated some lovely conversation that went beyond topics like when should be buy school supplies and other equally stimulating subjects. We laughed.  We talked. We had fun together.

Ladies, if you want to turn your husband into your “boyfriend” have dinner at The Pour House. You’ll have a good time.

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